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Born Ruffians – Birthmarks

on April 18, 2013, 12:00am

In his review for Born Ruffians’ 2010 album, Say It, our own Chris Coplan anticipated the future for this Canadian four-piece, writing: “without plenty of growth and some emotional diversity…the band will book themselves a one-way ticket to the musical Canadian tundra.” This sentiment, shared by many that heard the lukewarmly received LP, places pressure on their latest effort, Birthmarks. This album follows a simple idea: grow or die. Birthmarks is, largely, the sound of the band learning how to gracefully leave behind pre-pubescent tomfoolery in favor of meatier themes and weightier production.

And they mostly succeed, giving us the closest thing to a “grown up” album as we’re likely to ever get (or would want) from them. On tracks like single “Needle” and fuzzy pop-punk standout “Rage Flows”, you don’t get the sense that the band is about to fall apart at the seams or burst out in laughter. Instead, these are realized ideas.

In pre-release interviews, frontman Luke Lalonde claimed that much of the inspiration for Birthmarks came from his feelings of “moving through your mid-twenties and not doing what a lot of people my age feel like they should be doing - like a PhD, buying a house, having a real job with a salary and benefits.” Needless to say, this is a far cry from 2006, when he was a 14 year old boy who had just seen his first bra and squealed, “I need to get laid immediately.”

Now, heavy lines like “We get so lost sometimes, filling holes that don’t need fixing,” and “I’m not scared to die, I’m scared to be replaced” are peppered throughout Birthmarks, giving it a backbone worth revisiting. Some might be turned off by the absence of the four-goofy-guys spontaneity, but even without it, Birthmarks possesses the ability to surprise.

Essential Tracks: “Needle”, “Rage Flows”, and “Dancing On The Edge Of Our Graves”

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